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Derrick Brooks is Tampa's Citizen of the Year

By Philip Morgan, Times Staff Writer
Published: February 9, 2017
Derrick Brooks greets Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on his way to the podium after being awarded Citizen of the Year by the Tampa Metro Civitan Club on Thursday during the Governors Luncheon at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]

TAMPA -- Derrick Brooks, a nine-time All-Pro linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a member of the pro football Hall of Fame, is Tampa's Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

Brooks expressed surprise Thursday at hearing his name called out for the honor, presented by the Tampa Metro Civitan Club at the Governor's Day Luncheon on the opening day of the Florida State Fair.

"You guys are going to make me cry,'' he said.

Brooks, praised for turning around the lives of impoverished, at-risk young people in Tampa, was honored before a crowd of community and state leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

"What a great individual,'' Scott said about Brooks after the luncheon. "He's given a lot back. ... You'd hope every citizen is like him and wants to do something for others.''

Brooks told the large crowd gathered in the Charles M. Davis Special Events Center that God gave him an ability to play football but he also "gifted me with a heart for giving.''

He urged his listeners to give some of their time to help those in need.

Brooks, president of the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football team and co-founder of Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School, also founded Derrick Brooks Charities, Inc., which donates about $700,000 annually to help young people get educational opportunities.

The Tampa Metro Civitan Club has been honoring citizens of the year since 1927. A row of past honorees were at one of the tables Thursday. They included last year's recipient, former Florida House Speaker T. Terrell Sessums.

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.